If somebody told you to visit a Gothic building with 3,000 skeletons lurking under the floor, you’d be a little suspicious, but you’d likely be relieved to learn that among the many dead and gone at Westminster Abbey are the remains of some of Britain’s most famous sons and daughters.
Obviously, it’s the leading spot to be incarcerated for eternity if you were a royal personage – it was founded in 1065 by Edward the Confessor, though legend has it St Peter was the guiding hand – but it’s also permanent home to many of the great names from other fields.
England’s first national poet and local resident Geoffrey Chaucer led the way underground back in 1400, though it took the 18th century to name his bit of the Abbey Poet’s Corner. Among many others commemorated are Samuel Johnson, Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy (minus his heart, which was shipped to his beloved Dorset). William Shakespeare isn’t buried here, but there is a monument in his honour.
Charles Darwin is buried near the entrance along with the bones of the Missing Link (not true) and politicians of most stripes call the Abbey home, including 20th century greats Winston Churchill and Clement Atlee and a load of Williams, such as William Pitt (both of them), William Gladstone and anti-slave trade campaigner William Wilberforce.
Mon-Sat 9.30-4.30, but sometimes this varies. Check website calendar for details. On Sundays and religious holidays, it’s open for worship only.
How to Get There
– St James’s Park, Westminster
– 11, 24, 148, 507, 211